This Week in Gear: Apple Launches HomePod Pre-Orders, YouTube TV Expands to Roku & Apple TV, and MorePosted Sat Feb 3, 2018 at 06:00 PM PST by Steven Cohen
Apple Launches Pre-Orders for HomePod Speaker
Following a previous delay, Apple has finally launched pre-orders for its HomePod wireless home speaker. The device offers support for Apple Music, voice control, home assistant functions, and advanced audio quality features. Units are expected to be available for pickup or delivery on February 9 for an MSRP of $349.
"Apple reinvented portable music with iPod and now HomePod will reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. "HomePod packs powerful speaker technology, Siri intelligence and wireless access to the entire Apple Music library into a beautiful speaker that is less than 7 inches tall, can rock most any room with distortion free music and be a helpful assistant around your home."
The HomePod measures just under 7-inches tall and uses a custom array of seven horn-loaded tweeters, each with its own custom amplifier, along with a high-excursion woofer with custom amplifier. Under the hood, the speaker is powered by Apple's A8 chip providing bass management through real-time software modeling and other advanced audio functions, including a new spatial awareness feature. With spatial awareness, the HomePod is able to sense its position in a room -- whether it’s in a corner, on a table or in a bookshelf -- and then optimize its audio output for that location. To help achieve this, the device is also able to detect and separate center vocals, direct energy (instrumentation), and ambient audio (like backing vocals and reverb) within a music track, and then beam each piece directionally and blend them together specifically for the room's unique dynamics.
In addition, the speaker also includes a six-microphone array with advanced echo cancellation for Siri voice control and home assistant functions, allowing users to ask questions and access podcasts, news, weather, traffic, sports, reminders, timers, messages, and more. Finally, the HomePod has been designed for use with an Apple Music subscription for access to over 40 million songs.
With that said, it should be noted that the speaker is only set to be compatible with other Apple products, and requires an iPhone 5s or later, iPad Pro, iPad (5th generation), iPad Air or later, iPad mini 2 or later, or iPod touch (6th generation) running iOS 11.2.5 or later.
The Apple HomePod ($349) is now available for pre-order in White or Space Gray models for a February 9 launch.
YouTube TV App Arrives on Roku & Apple TV
Google has announced expanded availability for its YouTube TV live streaming app. As part of the expansion, the platform is now available on the Apple TV (4th generation), Apple TV 4K, and a variety of Roku devices, including: all Roku TVs, Roku Ultra, Roku Streaming Stick+, Roku Streaming Stick (3800x, 3600x), Roku Express/Express+ (3910x, 3900x, 3710x, 3700x), Roku Premiere+, Roku Premiere, Roku 4, Roku 3 (4200x, 4230x), and Roku 2 (4210x).
YouTube TV costs $35 per month and offers access to more than 40 live streaming networks, regional sports channels, and cable stations, including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, The CW, ESPN, Fox News, MSNBC, USA, Syfy, FX, Disney Channel, Sprout, E!, Bravo, and more. Likewise, the platform also includes an unlimited Cloud DVR feature, allowing users to record as many shows as they want at the same time with no storage limitations. Each recording will be available across supported playback devices and will be stored for nine months. In addition, the internet TV service provides access to YouTube Red original series and movies as well, along with the option to add Showtime or Fox Soccer Plus to the channel lineup for an extra fee.
In addition to new support for Apple TV (4th generation), Apple TV 4K, and Roku products, the service is also available through Android and iOS mobile devices, computers, Google Chromecast, Chromecast built-in TVs, the NVIDIA SHIELD, Sony smart TVs, Xbox One, Xbox One S, and Xbox One X consoles, and smart TV models from LG and Samsung.
LG Announces New Color Options for G6 & Q6 Smartphones
LG has announced plans to release new color options for its G6 and Q6 smartphones. The new colors for the G6 will include Moroccan Blue, Lavender Violet and Raspberry Rose. Likewise, the Q6 will also be available in the new Moroccan Blue and Lavender Violet models.
"LG is focusing on producing smartphones that are both high quality and emotionally expressive," said Park Hee-wook, vice president and head of product planning for LG Electronics’ Mobile Communications Company. "We want customers to be able to express their distinct personalities through LG’s unique and diverse range of color options."
The G6 features a 5.7-inch QHD+ FullVision display with a resolution of 2880 x 1440. In addition, the screen uses an 18:9 screen aspect ratio for a more immersive experience -- a first for a smartphone. Likewise, the device has been designed for single-handed ease of use. HDR10 and Dolby Vision support have been integrated as well, allowing for high dynamic range playback from streaming services like Amazon and Netflix. Meanwhile, the Q6 features a 5.5-inch FHD+ FullVision display with an 18:9 aspect ratio.
The new color lineup is set to launch this month in Korea before expanding to more markets in the coming months.